Winter is here

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Oops, never got new rain gear. Rain imminent. Paths to mulch with 3 bales of straw I bought today. I did put compost on the paths around the “new” strawberries and in some of the bare spots in the bed and on paths that I walked on between that bed and the pile of compost. Wish I had an effective way to quickly seed the cover crop beds (oh, wait, we do have that seeder)… no time…

The sky after some rain; produce study

The air quality is, at least on paper, getting better. It rained .2 inches on Thursday night! Note dark-colored soil due to the presence of moisture in the photo below. The air is definitely worse in other parts of town (like 6 blocks from the Coffey Park neighborhood on Friday, and when I visited Bennett Valley on Weds it was really bad). I got out to the garden on Friday morning and picked a basket of strawberries.  A lot of the “eat today” berries did not take well to being quintuple-washed. 😦

In the evening I started a new compost pile. I only used 4 or 5 buckets of stuff because I sprained my thumb (tho now it feels like the whole wrist) taking off my backpack the other day. SIGH! I’ve really overdone it the last few days, but, you know, vacuuming has to happen, especially after all the smoke in the last week and a half.

On Saturday I am planning on going to an orientation training thing to be part of a study about the effects of fire on produce! Yay! The woman was like, wow, you were really close to the fires. (3.1 miles by our count) I hope that some of the farmers who lost everything in the actual fires have gotten in touch with her!

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Plant/harvest, repeat

I haven’t been harvesting the peas – it’s time to get them out of there before the bugs decide to migrate to the strawberries. Ok, they’ll do that either way. They’ve reached the stage where every pea is trying to be a seed.

T and I started some seeds tonight – things like tomatoes, etc that most people would have been planting almost 2 months ago. I’m just kind of on my own late timeline. Someday I need to write something up about our cheapo starter greenhouse, but not today. Let’s just say that I take the trays out and leave them on a table in the sun because it’s too hot in there in the daytime. Tonight when I was putting trays away, I broke the clothespin that was holding the bird netting over the door. Sigh! At least the heat wave is ending.

Today Z mowed the area where I want to put the summer crops. First I need to deal with the pea bed and the Chesnok Red garlic. I can’t tell if it’s ready to pull or not. Most people either pull theirs or use a pitchfork. My soil is so hard that I have to dig with a shovel. I dig all around the plant and still usually end up cutting the bulb. Need to develop a better technique. Need to improve the soil!

The strawberries need fertilizing. I didn’t mulch them because 1. I never had the time, and 2. I wanted to compare the sow bug presence when there’s no compost on the ground. It’s a lot better, but the berries are VERY thirsty. They got 1.5 hours of water (through drip tape) yesterday and were dry today. I’m trying to go back to every other day watering as we come out of this heat wave. Gotta let those roots spread.

The cabbage and broccoli (or whatever) that I transplanted this week have had all but one leaf eaten off of them. There’s a thick layer of compost on the ground in that bed.

I did a bit of mowing along the blackberry patch that borders our driveway to make access this summer a bit easier. And, of course, also to check if they’re ripening. They usually start in the first few days of July, but… I harvested and ate 3! I need to figure out a way to hang the harvest bucket around my neck so I can use both hands.

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The season that wasn’t

Oy, I’m so far behind. We got some rain in the last 2 weeks, so grass and weeds are happy.  Check out this canary grass that was in the garden.

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canary grass. seems to be a species that indicates the presence of water. It was next to a spigot. This stuff can get to be like 7′ tall. 

 

It’s not the first and others have dropped seed :(. I cut the seedheads off of this one and brought it and a bunch of weeds from the fenceline that we share with the neighbors to the municipal compost bin last night. I spent a couple of hours mowing during mid-day, and I finished right when my neighborhood’s temperature peaked at 101. It hardly ever gets quite that hot here. The garden has been doing pretty okay with this heat wave, partly because I’ve been handwatering recent seedings and transplants.

Coming along… slowly

I think it was a bit less windy today, but around 8:15am it was still 43.5 degrees F outside. The strawberries are not liking this cold weather, which means that I’m having to throw out a whole lot of bad and/or soft berries :(. And the work has gotten ahead of me. I started working on the Chandler bed on Friday and I made it about 5 feet in an hour. The soil is so hard that it is nearly impossible and very painful to pull out all that mature grass :(.

I’m realizing that I’ve been really overwatering the small seedlings. The flowers have hardly any roots. 😦 On the flipside of that, past the area where I noticed a big leak in the Seascape/Sweet Ann bed the other night, we realized today that 1/4 of that bed (half of that row) is not receiving water because the gophers chewed all the way through the drip tape. Sad, small plants and sad, dry berries. I need to get out there with a watering can. And fertilizer. 😦 And another line of drip tape.

I have been trying to transplant my flowers, but I don’t know if any of the poppies (too late for them, anyhow) or Shasta daisies will survive. We shall see… I haven’t transplanted my dill yet, but I think it looks better after spending the weekend out of the direct sun on the bottom shelf in the greenhouse.

Today was Mother’s Day so I didn’t get as much done as I might have on a regular Sunday. T spent some time hanging out in the garden with me. Today he was really into eating pea leaves. I am struggling to teach him to hold the plant with one hand and pull the leaf off with the other! We went to the farm supply store to try to find a hose sprayer for the greenhouse. I also got an extra kneeling pad or two, and a kids’ garden rake for T. And more seedling trays!

Made my first sale

I’ve been keeping busy out there in the garden. I’m still working hard on the painstaking removal of old plant matter (and weeds and slugs) from last summer’s strawberry bed. Meanwhile, there are strawberries to pick and eat every time I go out there. I’ve done over 7 hours of work (over the last week or so, I think) and I have only made it about halfway down the bed. I don’t have time for this! I need to get my June-bearing bed cleaned up, and today I noticed that there are strawberries rotting in the 2016 summer strawberry bed.

Meanwhile, my seedlings are begging to be planted or potted up. I sold 2 sixpacks of Broccoli (Waltham 29 iirc) today! A woman drove over and took them home for her raised beds. In addition to my not having time, the beds that I wanted to use for greens. I have cabbage, dino kale – 4 sixpacks – and way-too-leggy red russian kale, plus some dill and a few zinnias for those beds. I also have marigolds and poppies. I need to get those poppies into the pea bed asap. I’ll have to hand-water first, though! I tried planting some sweet peas for flowers this spring and got zero plants. I need to just start them in the greenhouse.

Speaking of peas, we got our longest section of trellis moved from one of last fall’s pea beds this week. I set up the trellis this morning and tried to train the plants to the netting. By about 11 or 11:30, the plants were shutting down and stopped reaching. This evening it looked to me like the casual observer might think that I had, in fact, trained them. 🙂 There are still a lot of weeds, including volunteer tomatoes. Hopefully next winter will be a bit less rainy and I can remove my debris in a timely fashion.

I’ve been doing a lot of mowing and weedwhacking. I have uncovered most of the path that goes down the middle of the garden. Unfortunately there is a row’s worth of drip tubing stuck in some really tall grass on the west end. 😦 Tonight I realized that my planned new greens beds were immediately next to last summer’s greens beds, which I had only just mowed. I tried to pull the chopped up brassicas out and take them to the compost pile. Didn’t quite get to finish since it was getting very late…

We need to water soon, even though we had a few rainy days earlier this week. The ground has crusted over wherever it’s bare. Hoping to start more seeds real soon.

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Photo taken by my partner Z this evening. It shows me at the north end of the garden with the mower, which had likely stalled due to trying to eat too much grass at a time

I need help! and more time.

I’ve been spending 1-2 hours in the garden each day, usually in the evening, which puts a lot of domestic pressure on my husband. It’s so weird that I call him my husband now, because I fully intended to always call him my partner. Things are a bit more conservative here in Sonoma County, as compared to where we got married – in Oakland. Anyhow, he doesn’t really have any time or energy for the garden these days. This is frustrating, since taking down last fall’s pea trellis has been a lengthy process for me (sickled and cut grass back from the trellis a week or two ago, and today I pulled the stakes out, but the trellis is twist-tied on at the base, and some of the trellis past the last stake is really stuck in the grass). I need this trellis for this spring’s peas!!!

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Crappy photo taken at sunset of the part of the strawberry bed where I’ve been pulling dead leaves, runners, and fruit off and killing whatever slugs I can. Note red strawberry on plant on left. Some of them have cold damage, which I think is because I’ve pulled the weeds back a few inches from the strawberry plants and made room for cold air to enter and hang out in the bed.

 

Over the last 3-4 days I have spent (at least) 5.5 hours on pulling off dead/dying leaves and fruit and killing slugs and other bugs in the Seascape/Sweet Ann (2016) strawberry bed. I’m almost halfway down the bed. I really did not clean up the bed at the end of last year.

Also, I mowed 1.5 hours yesterday (around most strawberry beds, where new greens should be, around field edges, and a bit more of the mound that goes along the neighbors’ fence, which I spent about 2 hours on on Thurs or Fri). Mowing the mound last week was slow going because the plants were so tall and the bunch grasses were so thick and damp at their bases that the mower kept stalling. I want to plant perennials for foliage and filler up there. It’s over 200 feet (probably more like 280) and is over 6′ wide in some spots. The previous owner reportedly tried to plant bushes there, but they didn’t do well. The grass is always very happy there, and the curly dock, too.

Seedlings in greenhouse are doing well (no sign of lemon balm, only  1 onion germinated, not sure about the larkspur or the lavender or rosemary). The greens are ready to transplant. I guess I need to get some 4″ pots or something :/ 

Some rain is predicted for Monday and Tuesday. We have already received 60.05 inches of rain since October 1st. Our average annual rainfall is 36.28, so this is pretty catastrophic. Be glad you can’t smell my neighbors’ septic system, the vapors from which get blown into my garden. I have multiple chemical sensitivity, so the combination of their personal, laundry, and dish products (along with poop) really kicks my butt.

Meanwhile, there’s a gathering of an agricultural organization that I’ve paid to be a member of on Monday. It starts before my husband should be home from work (hopefully he can leave early), and my child, who I was hoping to bring with me, has a cough.